Foster Based Rescue
Southern Ontario

Dog Training Tips: Groomer Has It

In recent years, pet groomers are cropping up everywhere, turning scruffy, smelly pets into elegantly coiffed, lavender-scented companions.

While many of us may not feel the need to bring our four-legged friends to the “pet spa,” there are numerous reasons to take Fido for some proper primping:

Coat Care
Some dogs have a low-maintenance coat, but even these dogs can develop skin and coat conditions without proper care. Most dogs shed, and need brushing to keep their skin healthy and comfortable. Mats can form in inconspicious places, such as the underarm or inguinal region, causing discomfort.

In dogs with really thick coats, skin problems can be difficult to detect, and may only come to light when they’re already more serious.

A dog’s coat is made to be a strong barrier between the animal’s body and the outside world, it’s for this reason that dogs don’t sweat! Despite this, sometimes moisture can develop between the fur and skin, and this can cause a bacterial or fungal infection. This can be exacerbated by the dog licking the area, as saliva further contaminates the skin, and keeps it damp. Dogs that spend a lot of time in water need more care, as hot spots, ear infections and mats form more easily.

Bathing your dog too often will strip the fur and skin of essential oils, causing either a dry or excessively greasy coat. How often you need to bathe Fido depends on his coat type and condition, but a healthy dog shouldn’t be bathed more often than every three months or so.

The average dog should be brushed every other day with a soft brush, and deshedded once a week. Deshedding too often can excessively thin out the coat and irritate the skin.

Eyes, ears, mouth and nose… And some other parts
Inspecting these areas can help solve small problems before they become serious. Dogs with pendant ears tend to require more care, as there is less air flow, which makes for a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungus.

Some dogs are prone to eye problems, such as those with eyeballs not properly inserted into the orbits (Pugs, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzus…) While tear stains are typically just an aesthetic issue, they can be a symptom of an eye condition looming in the future. Conjunctivitis (pink eye) is relatively common in dogs, and not serious if caught early on, only requiring a few days of anti-inflammatory eye drops.

Some breeds are more prone to oral health issues, such as Yorkshire Terriers, with excessive tarter formation and stomatitis (oral ulcers) being the main culprits. Brushing your dog’s teeth with a toothbrush can be irritating to the gums, and “doggy toothpaste” isn’t necessary. Using an old – clean! – sock to gently remove plaque from the outside face of the dog’s dentition a couple of times a week is usually more than enough to keep the average dog’s mouth healthy for years to come.
Dogs that chew or eat rocks, sticks, their crate, or other hard objects can break their teeth. If a nerve is exposed, this causes intense pain, which can make a dog reluctant to eat or have their snout touched.

Anal glands are two small glands just inside the dog’s anus, both sexes have anal glands, and usually they don’t cause any problems for the dog. Sometimes, though, they can become impacted, causing inflammation and pain. Having a pet professional regularly check your dog’s anal glands is a good routine to get into. Some dogs are predisposed, especially those with soft stools, as they don’t properly express the anal glands as they pass.

Most dogs absolutely hate having their paws touched, especially getting their nails clipped, but keeping your dog’s nails properly clipped is of the utmost importance, as long nails not only crack and split more easily, but they alter the way the animal places its paws on the ground, which will affect the animal’s joints, the same way high heels alter the way a person walks.

The more the nails are allowed to grow, the more the quick (the sensitive tissue which provides blood flow to the nail) grows with it, this makes it increasingly difficult to keep the dog’s nails short. Clipping a dog’s nails can be quite challenging, so don’t attempt it without a knowledgeable person helping you out.

Keeping up a proper grooming regimen is much easier with a qualified groomer, but this isn’t always strictly necessary. Spotting problems early will help keep vet bills low and your pets quality of life high!

Sabina Gross, BSc.

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